Commission consults on modernising communications regulation

Published On:Thursday, December 17, 2009

Commission consults on modernising communications regulation - Isle of Man Government - Communications Commission

The Communications Commission is inviting written responses, by Thursday 11 February 2010, to its proposals for a new approach to communications regulation.

The Isle of Man’s good communications networks and services have been key to the Island’s competitive edge and economic growth in recent years. However, the system of communications regulation is increasingly outdated and inflexible. The Telecommunications Act dates back to 1984 and the Broadcasting Act has remained largely unchanged since 1993. Both were drafted in a largely pre-mobile, pre-digital and pre-Internet age.

The Communications Commission wants the Island’s infrastructure to remain leading-edge, both to remain competitive and to develop new wealth-creating industries. The purpose of this review is to ensure the Island has the best regulatory framework to enable continual development of our communications networks and services for residents, visitors and business.

The Commission is therefore recommending an approach tailored to the Island’s unique position modelled around two central principles:

  • regulation focussed on developing a communications infrastructure that will maximise the Island’s social and economic potential, and
  • a regulatory approach that emphasises cooperation as the first approach to tackling disputes or areas of concern

This approach will provide a more certain environment for operators to continue to invest and upgrade communications infrastructure and help stimulate new and innovative services for consumers and businesses alike.

Hon Adrian Earnshaw MHK, Chairman of the Communications Commission believes the time is right to update the Island’s communications regulation:

“Given the current financial challenges we are facing, both globally and those unique to the Island, economic diversification is key and I believe fast and effective modern communications networks and services will underpin the Island’s success in years to come. Effective and forward-looking regulation is therefore vital if the Isle of Man wishes to attract investment and innovation in these areas.”

Dr Carmel McLaughlin, Director of the Communications Commission explains why modernisation of is required:

“Until a few years ago, there were only two incumbent licensees on Island – Manx Telecom and Manx Radio. Today, we have two mobile operators (and a third is licensed but not yet operational), five Internet Service Providers and three radio stations – all competing for the attention of a population of just 82,000 people.
This competition has undoubtedly brought with it benefits for residents and businesses but the legislation available to the Commission has not evolved to keep pace. This is an opportunity for the Island to create a forward looking regulatory approach which facilitates co-operation and investment and, ultimately, greater value for the Isle of Man.”

Responses to the consultation will inform the development of the Island’s communications regulation.

This consultation can be viewed online here. A response form is annexed to the consultation paper for your convenience. Following the closing date all responses will be considered. This will help inform the more detailed drafting of any new legislation, which will be subject to a further consultation in 2010.